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*Michael Espy was born on this date in 1953. He is a Black lawyer and politician.
Alphonso Michael Espy was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi. He is the grandson of Thomas J. Huddleston Sr., founder of the Afro-American Sons and Daughters. This fraternal society operated the Afro-American Hospital, a leading healthcare provider for Blacks in the state from the 1920s to the 1970s.
Espy attended Howard University and was active in student politics, holding several elective positions. He earned his Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law in California in 1978. Espy was an attorney with Central Mississippi Legal Services between 1978 and 1980 and was later the Assistant Secretary of State to Mississippi Legal Services. From 1980 to 1984, he was the Assistant Secretary of the State to the Public Lands Division. He was an Assistant State Attorney General from 1984 to 1985. In November 1986, Espy was elected as a Democrat to the 100th Congress from Mississippi's 2nd congressional district. He became the first Black to represent Mississippi at the federal level since Reconstruction. He was re-elected three times.
In December 1992, Espy was chosen by President-elect Bill Clinton to be the Secretary of Agriculture in the new administration. Espy resigned from his seat in the House of Representatives. Espy served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1993 to 1994. He announced his resignation in October 1994, following questions from the White House over his use of government perks and acceptance of gifts. He was indicted in 1997 for receiving improper gifts but acquitted of all 30 charges in 1998. In October 2007, Espy endorsed Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's reelection campaign.
In 2008, Espy became an attorney at Morgan & Morgan, a nationwide law firm, where he handles general plaintiff's law, mass tort, bond and governmental finance, and international relations cases. One of his notable cases was the Pigford lawsuit, where Espy worked with a black farmer's advocacy group, the National Black Farmers Association, to represent those farmers. In March 2018, Espy announced his candidacy for the United States Senate seat vacated by Thad Cochran. Espy finished second in the November 6 nonpartisan special election before facing Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith in a November 27 runoff. Hyde-Smith defeated Espy. He was the Democratic nominee again in the 2020 election.
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